New York City Jail: 15th Inmate Dies This Year
By Staff, Agencies
A New York City jail inmate has passed away at a hospital after experiencing a medical issue, becoming the 15th prisoner to die in the city’s crisis-ridden jail system.
Malcolm Boatwright, 28, died on Friday after he was taken from the Rikers Island jail complex to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan Thursday night, The Associated Press reported.
Boatwright had been incarcerated at the jail since November 12, following his arrest on sexual abuse charges. He had a court appearance scheduled for Monday and was also due to be sentenced in connection with a 2013 case.
Corrections Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said that Boatwright's death "is a heartbreaking loss at the end of a very difficult year. My deepest sympathy goes out to Mr. Boatwright's loved ones."
Officials said they will release more information about Boatwright's death when an investigation was complete.
The Brooklyn Defender Services, a public defender organization, said in a statement that Boatwright’s death was the latest horrifying consequence of failure to address the abysmal conditions in New York City jails.
The situation in the New York City jail system, troubled by years of neglect, was exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic with a spike in inmate deaths, violence and self-harm.
In addition, the system has also suffered from severe staff shortages, with reports saying that as many as 1,000 corrections officers called out sick every day at one point early this year.
In a letter to President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland back in September, the city’s congressional Democrats called for a civil rights investigation into the jail system.
“We cannot continue to allow Rikers Island to deteriorate to the point that it is no longer a safe place for those in custody or those who work in the jails,” the representatives said, according to AP.
That same month, there was an emergency conference call regarding the situation, during which US District Judge Laura Swain warned the Rikers Island jail complex is "clearly in a state of danger and crisis."
There were seven inmate deaths in 2020, three in 2019, eight in 2018 and six in 2017, according to the Department of Correction.
Boatwright’s death tied the number of deaths in New York City’s jails to that of 2016.
The 14th person to die in Rikers was Anthony Scott, 58. Scott died in October a few days after attempting to take his own life. He was the sixth inmate in a city jail to die by suicide this year.